Dodgers @ Braves – May 24, 2023: Gonsolin goes for the unlikeliest sweep

As unlikely as it seemed a few days ago, the Dodgers bounced back from losing their series against the Cardinals to winning the first two games against the Braves with Gavin Stone and Bobby Miller on the mound.

That’s a credit to the offense scoring 16 runs in the two games, as well as the bullpen holding up for 9 innings with just one run on one walk and five hits allowed. The two wins bumped the Dodgers (31-19) back ahead of the Braves (29-19) in the National League and behind the Rays (35-15), Orioles (31-17) and the Rangers (31-18) in the majors. While we all seem to be waiting for the team on its seventh and eighth starters to slip back, the Dodgers are 15-6 in May. That stretch in May includes 13 consecutive games which ends today after starting back in San Diego on May 12.

Tony Gonsolin‘s four starts in May have led to a 3-1 record, including wins against the Phillies, Padres and Cardinals. After gradually working his way back in his first few starts of the season, Gonsolin has thrown 6, 5 and 5 innings while increasing his pitch count from 80 to 94. He’s up against Bryce Elder who has reached at least 5 innings in all nine of his starts this season and has allowed five runs in 23 1/3 innings during May.

Tonight’s series finale will be the final time the Dodgers and Braves see one another until Atlanta heads to Los Angeles for a four-game series beginning on August 31.

Image Image
4:20 P.M. Atlanta
RF Betts RF Acuna
1B Freeman (L) 1B Olson (L)
C Smith 3B Riley
3B Muncy (L) C d’Arnaud
DH Martinez LF Rosario (L)
CF Heyward (L) 2B Albies (S)
2B Vargas DH Ozuna
LF Peralta (L) SS Arcia
SS Taylor CF Harris (L)
P Gonsolin (R) P Elder (R)

Both Jason Heyward and David Peralta are in the lineup with James Outman on the bench. Outman is 2-for-19 with eight strikeouts on the road trip. Since he went 7-for-14 across a three-day stretch in Chicago and Pittsburgh and peaked at a .316/.400/.709/.1.109 line, Outman has hit .179/.271/.298/.568 with 38 strikeouts in 96 plate appearances. Peralta is slashing .267/.333/.467/.800 with 9 strikeouts to 5 walks in 51 plate appearances after his OPS hit .416 on April 30 and Heyward is at .296/.415/.568/.983 with 10 strikeouts to 9 walks in 55 plate appearances since April 27.

J.D. Martinez is slashing .283/.306/.652/.968 in his 49 plate appearances since returning from the IL and Freddie Freeman is at .442/.508/.846/.1.354 in his last 61 plate appearances since his average dropped to .286 on May 9, his lowest since April 25.

For the Braves, Michael Harris II is back in center field and former Dodger Travis d’Arnaud is catching in place of Sean Murphy.


Elder will face the Dodgers for the first time in his career, which is still just 19 career games and 18 starts. Throwing 54 innings in 2022, Elder finished his first season in the majors with 47 strikeouts to 23 walks. In 52 innings this season, Elder is at 45 strikeouts to 15 walks. His ERA is down at 2.06 in 2023 compared to a 3.17 ERA in 2022, and his 3.34 FIP and 3.60 xFIP are ahead of the 3.78 FIP and 4.16 xFIP.

In his brief time in the majors, Elder’s predictably been just a little better against right-handed batters than lefties. With a .235/.313/.309/.622 line against 243 right-handed batters to a .218/.294/.385/.679 195 left-handed batters, Elder’s slider (46.7%) and sinker (45.6%) combo against righties tops the nearly even split of four-seamers, sliders, sinkers and changeups to lefties.

Elder’s fastball is at a .472 wOBA and a .476 xwOBA to lefties and .506/.478 overall, which lands him 346th of the 394 qualified pitchers. Coming in at 90.6 mph, Elder’s fastball is just 6 mph fast than his change (84.3 mph) and 8 mph faster than his slider (82.2 mph) while the sinker is nearly the same at 89.4 mph. The pitches do vary in vertical break, with Elder’s slider actually among the lowest horizontal movement (0.8 inches, similar to Victor Gonzalez) and the vertical break near the highest (43.2 inches, similar to Justin Bruihl).

With that said, here’s a look at Elder on Baseball Savant:

Gonsolin will face the Braves for the third time in his career, with two of those coming in 2022. Allowing a .158/.256/.211/.466 line in those two starts, Gonsolin struck out 11 in his 11 2/3 innings with five walks and six hit allowed.

As expected, Gonsolin’s pitch usage is pretty similar to his career so far with his four-seamer slightly coming down about 5% with his curve about 2.5%. The fastball’s 92.6 mph is the lowest of Gonsolin’s career, but is only down from 93.1 mph last season and 93.8 mph in 2021. He has added another 2 inches of vertical movement to his splitter, now 13.7 inches up from his debut back in 2019 and 4 inches since 2021, while his curve has moved down in vertical movement by about 4 inches since 2021 as well. The splitter is sitting at a .373 xwOBA, the fourth-highest of any pitch in his five years in the majors, but has outperformed that at a .217 wOBA.

I keep harping on this everything I write about Gonsolin, but his expected stats continue to look much worse than his actual performance. His 1.13 ERA so far in 2023 is well ahead of his 4.03 FIP and 4.81 xFIP, just as his 2.14 ERA beat his 3.28 FIP and 3.69 xFIP in 2022. His already hilariously low career BABIP has come down even more with a .172 in 2023. That leaves him at .218 for his career, the lowest among any pitcher in history that’s thrown at least 250 innings and remains lowest in history even if you bring the qualifying inning total down to 145 innings.


Gus Varland is back in the organization and has now been added to the Triple-A roster.


Miller and the Dodgers had fun after the game last night.

For anyone who missed it last night, even if it’s completely obvious.


First pitch from Truist Park is scheduled for 4:20 p.m. on SportsNet LA and MLB Network.

About Cody Bashore

Cody Bashore is a lifelong Dodger fan originally from Carpinteria, California (about 80 miles north of Dodger Stadium along the coast). He left California to attend Northern Arizona University in 2011, and has lived in Arizona full-time since he graduated in 2014 with a journalism degree.